Sheikh Nahyan Center for Arabic Studies and Intercultural Dialogue

University of Balamand Lebanon 

Fouad Samara Architects

“The Sheikh Nahyan Center for Arabic Studies & Intercultural Dialogue (CASID) is seen as a new addition to the existing and firmly rooted cultural and educational fabric of the University of Balamand in Lebanon’s North. By creating a forum for cultural, intellectual, and religious exchange, the CASID aims to embody the progressive ethos of the university, and create a positive contribution to it. A direct response to the architectural aspirations set for it, the CASID is derived from courtyard buildings, an archetype found extensively in Arab architectural heritage. The CASID knits itself into the site with the eastern part rooted in the landscape and perpendicular to the slope (traditional way of dealing with slopes in Levant traditional architecture); the western part hovering above creating the formal entrance and aligned to the street; and the southern part acting as a natural extension to the landscape itself. This courtyard, albeit a modern interpretation of the traditional archetype, is not a fort like structure. On the contrary, it is open to all its surroundings and engages with them. A modern interpretation of the tradition Mashrabieh, louvers in varying widths and spacing filter the western sun coming into the upper floor. One accesses the building from all sides and from all respective levels of the street and landscape around, symbolizing its role as a nexus of exchange and its accessibility to all.”


[text by Fouad Samara Architects]